Is mediation or collaborative law an option for me in Illinois?

Dina Warner

Answered by:
Dina Warner

Located in Chicago, IL
Berger Schatz

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It depends. Both mediation and collaborative law provide consensus-driven alternative means of resolving divorce disputes without going to court. But to achieve this goal, both rely on the honesty and openness of both spouses, and assume a mutual desire to resolve amicably the difficult financial and child-related issues that arise in a divorce.

Mediation typically involves only the two spouses working with a trained neutral mediator. The mediator’s role is to facilitate a future-focused, issue-specific dialogue with the parties aimed at resolving their disagreements. Generally, several sessions are required to work through the issues and reach an agreement both parties can accept.

By contrast, the collaborative law process involves the spouses, their attorneys, and a divorce coach (or coaches), and possibly other neutral professionals such as a neutral financial expert and neutral parenting expert. Like mediation, collaborative law typically requires multiple meetings and sessions to arrive at consensus.

While the two dispute resolution methods are similar in many respects, their main differences suggest which method may best serve a divorcing couple. Mediation relies on the direct involvement of the two spouses with the mediator, and thus works best when both spouses are articulate and informed, and have an ability and desire to communicate openly. Because attorneys typically are not present during mediation sessions, both spouses need to be familiar with the details of their financial situation and willing to negotiate their positions directly.

Collaborative law, by contrast, may be more appropriate where one or both spouses is less comfortable grappling with the details of the family’s finances, or is not at ease directly discussing and deciding the emotional and financial aspects of the divorce. Where that is the case, the spouses benefit from the assistance of an attorney and the insights of trained professionals.

Answered 10/16/2013

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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